As part of my participation in the #100happydays challenge, I want to share a little bit more about the thing that makes me happy today.
I have rediscovered the art of scripture journaling. It is something that I have done off and on for quite some time and I love going back through my previous journals and reading the things that I have learned over the years.
As I have been praying, pondering, and preparing for a new school year to begin, I wanted to do something different for our seminary portion of the school day. I kept stumbling across scripture journals. These journals looked different then the ones that I have kept only because they had added fancy handwriting and doodles to them. The idea was basically the same- writing down ideas and impressions that come to you while you are studying the scriptures- AKA the things that the Spirit is trying to teach us while we study.
I decided that maybe this was the ticket. The girls and I are visual learners and we like to be crafty. So far, so good. We are studying stories from the Old Testament in our study time together and it has been fun to see pictures and things that the girls come up with as we discuss these stories. The whole idea is to fill the journals with pictures and words that mean something to you. That way, hopefully, you will retain the information better.
I also created my own personal "topic journal." Instead of studying a specific section of scripture each day, I have decided to study topics. The first topic I chose? PATIENCE.
I thought maybe I could spend two-three days on the topic. Well, I started last Monday and as of tonight, I am still not finished. I have discovered that one scripture leads to another scripture and that leads to a quote and then I write down my impressions and so on and so on. Five pages later (and counting)...seems like patience is something that is key for me to know about right now.
The one thing that has stuck out to me in my study of patience this week.
I've got to "Love the Now." I have a tendency to constantly look and think (and worry about) the future instead of enjoying what is happening now. Right here, right now in my life. Yes, we certainly need to prepare for our futures. Yes, we need to make plans and set goals. However, if we let the future overwhelm and overtake our thought processes too much, then we are unable to enjoy the present.
And I'll tell you what...the present is pretty awesome and so are scripture journals. I am excited to see where this adventure in studying takes me.
Today is a pretty great day.
I have spent the quiet hours of the morning contemplating on what to write to commemorate this happy day in which I get to celebrate my Four-Year Cancerversary.
I wrote a post on my family blog, because that is where my journey started and that is where it will continue, but I also want to share it here. Thank goodness for the "copy and paste" feature...
I have been participating in the #100happydays challenge on my Instagram account. As the 50 day mark has been approaching I have been thinking, "I really need to find something spectacular to post on Day 50." Earlier this week, when I was calculating the days, I realized that Day 50 would be today.
It is not a coincidence.
Today marks four years from my breast cancer diagnosis.
Last night, I spent a little time reading my blog posts for the one-year, two-year, and three-year marks. I have come a long way in four years. Yet at times, I feel like I am right back in those beginning stages, battling fear and anxiety. The PTSD kicks in and I go through a slight mental breakdown. Usually this happen right around the time of my follow-up appointments with my oncologist. I start noticing every little thing that doesn't feel "normal" and make note of it so I can talk to him about it. Then I do the whole "you're crazy/no you're not" talk in my head and try to convince myself that I am just being silly.
The mental game is still exhausting.
I would say that 80% of the time, I don't think about it.
80% of the time, I am living life to the fullest, enjoying my second chance, and thriving in my circumstances.
But the remaining 20% of the time is spent trying to convince myself that I am healthy; that the new ache in my back is just a tweaked muscle, my IBS flare up is just an IBS flare up, my increased fatigue is just because I need more sleep, and so on. Every time I leave a doctor's office with a clean bill of health, I feel grateful, but I also feel a bit of trepidation. It's almost as though my anxious brain will not rest until one of these doctors tell me,
"I'm sorry. The cancer is back."
Man! I really, really, really, despise what cancer has done to me mentally!
I can take the physical changes...
*The scars- I love them. Every time I see them, they remind me that I did a really hard thing and I was given a second chance.
*The lack of estrogen- I will say that I mostly love this. I really love not having to deal with "that time of the month" physically, although I feel like I still go through phantom PMS and get a bit cranky, which is weird. One thing that I have not loved about the lack of estrogen is the development of "melasma" or a darkening of my upper lip due to the hormone change in my body. In other words, I have a hairless mustache that won't go away. Sure, I am probably the only one who notices it on a daily basis, but it bugs me. I'll get over it though.
But mentally? It's a challenge sometimes.
Cancer is blah.
and it's so good to be alive!
I will take the mental anguish, the weird pains that are probably just weird pains, I will even take the mustache, because I have a great life.
I know that there is a God who loves me and knows me.
I know that whatever the next step for me is, I will be able to do it because I have His help and guidance.
I have a pretty amazing network of family and friends who fill my life with joy.
I know that I am here for a reason and every single day I pray to know where God needs me, what He needs me to do, and who I can help.
Four years of taking life one day at a time.
Four years of living, loving, and growing.
Yes, today is definitely a happy day.
A day of celebration, and let's be honest, will probably include some chocolate in one form or another. :)
Life is good and I am happy to be living it.
I would like to share a story with you. This is a story that I have heard many times, but when reading it again this last week it struck me more powerfully than it ever has before.
One night a man and his wife were preparing for bed. Their two adopted children (twins) had been very ill. The babies finally fell asleep after many hours of restlessness so this man's wife told him that they had better get some sleep as well. Shortly after they had drifted off to sleep, the young father was yanked out of his slumber by the sound of his wife screaming and he noticed that about a dozen men were pouring into his home.
Heart-wrenching, right? As a wife, as a mother, as a human being, this creates so much sadness in my soul. How could these men do something like this and live with themselves? It boggles my mind, yet it also leaves me feeling an immense amount of reverence and awe for the young father.
Why would this young father be subjected to such torture? What could prompt such treatment?
I don't think I would. I probably would have said, "Okay! You got me. You are right. It was all a great lie and deception. I'm sorry. Please leave me and my family alone now."
But, he couldn't do that because his story was true.
It all sounds so incredibly unbelievable. A young boy of 14 seeing God and Jesus Christ? Having an angel come to him and tell him about an ancient record that was written on gold plates that he was supposed to find and then translate? Everything about that has the logical side of my brain screaming in disbelief.
However, we can't judge things of a spiritual nature solely with the limited capabilities of our logical and mortal brains.
We have to exercise faith.
We have to humble ourselves and ask God if these things are true.
It's the only way for you to truly know that these miraculous events actually did happen. I can say that I know they happened because I have had that witness to my heart and mind. And I, like Joseph Smith, cannot deny it. I know that God knows that I know and there is no turning back from that.
I leave you with the words of an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. This powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith brings me to tears every...single...time. I love the Prophet Joseph and I cannot wait for the day that I will be able to personally thank him for the many, many sacrifices he made. For the countless times he was persecuted because of his testimony and resolve to do the Lord's will.
I want to admit something.
I have struggled the last little while with writing on this blog. Part of that is because it is summer and we have been busy doing fun summer things; no time to sit down and write. However, the biggest part of the struggle is because I have been battling with the adversary in my mind.
He has been telling me lies (which is what he always does), and unfortunately, I have been listening. Here are some of the lies he has been telling me:
"No one wants to read what you write."
"You are writing too much about Christ and churchy things.
People are sick of it."
"You have become a nuisance. Maybe you should stop writing for a while."
Have I mentioned that Satan is not one of my favorite people?
Now, let me make something perfectly clear about Satan. He...does...not...love...us. Period. He does not care about us at all. He wants us to be miserable because he is miserable. Is that someone we should ever listen to? No. But we do. Time and time again we listen to the lies he tells us.
Here's the fun part of this post; the part where I get to follow in my Savior's footsteps and say, "Get thee hence, Satan." (Matthew 4:10) You are no longer welcome to leave those thoughts in my brain and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Here's what I know...
I have to continue writing. Mostly because it consistently helps me to learn things about myself that I need to work on, things that I need to improve. If it helps others as well, then that is the icing on the cake.
So, I make no apologies for including my Savior in pretty much every post. I tried to think of other things I could write about, but if I am trying to center my life on Him and His teachings then doesn't it make sense that I would write about Him? It makes perfect sense to me.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." Romans 1:16
I choose to follow Christ.
He is my Savior and my Redeemer and He will never tell me lies or drag me down. He will only build me up and through the Holy Spirit will speak nothing but truth to my troubled heart and mind.
I love this picture of my cute little Ellie and when I settled on the topic for this post, I knew that this photo would be a part of it. I think it captures the feelings that I would like this post to convey: pure joy, immense gratitude for all that surrounds us, light and love.
Last month, I attended our Stake's annual Girls Camp. I have had the privilege of being on the Stake Camp Committee for the past seven years and I have loved each and every one of them. At each Girls Camp, we select a theme song for the girls to learn that will help them to feel the spirit of Christ. This year our song was a little bit different than songs that we have had in the past. It was a different style than the previous songs, very upbeat and fun. We knew it would bring a different feel to the camp and I was excited to see how this song in particular would invite this special spirit into the girls' lives.
Are you curious about this song yet? Good, because I am going to add it to the post right now.
Isn't that a fun song? The girls loved it and we had some very sweet experiences while singing that song up in the mountains on consecrated ground.
Now on to what I would like to say about this subject. It is imperative that this message gets out there. Five little words that pack a powerful punch:
IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE.
Do we live in perilous times? Yes. Is that anything new? No. I recently listened to a talk by one of our past prophets, President Gordon B. Hinckley. Here is what he had to say about living in perilous times.
"...Peril is not a new condition for the human family. Revelation tells us that 'there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon'...What a perilous time that must have been...Evil was manifest early in this world when Cain slew Abel. It increased until in the days of Noah 'God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth'...The earth was cleansed...Righteousness was again established. But it was not long until the family of humanity, so very many of them, returned to the ways of disobedience..."
Peril has always been a part of our lives- even before we came to this earth- and it will continue to be part of our lives until Satan is bound in the Millenium. (I cannot wait for that day. If that term is unfamiliar to you, please send me a quick email and I can tell you more about it. :)
President Hinckley goes on to say:
"Notwithstanding the great evil...what a glorious season it has been and now is...This great dawning has also resulted in a tremendous outpouring of secular knowledge...Think of the increased longevity of life. Think of the wonders of modern medicine. I stand amazed...Man's ingenuity knows no end when the God of heaven inspires and pours out light and knowledge."
We have to remember what a glorious time we are living in. Evil runs rampant, but that is nothing new and guess what? It's all part of the great plan of happiness. Evil is part of a plan of happiness? You bet. It is part of that plan because we all have been given a great gift of AGENCY. Some people use that agency wisely and some use it very poorly. It is very unfortunate and extremely heart wrenching when the poor choices of others have a negative impact on people who are exercising their agency wisely. But all will be well in the end.
How can I say that, you might ask? How can I say that all will be well in the end when everything looks so bleak right now?
I can say that because I know that God lives. I know that He has established a plan of happiness, a great plan of salvation, in which He has provided a Savior for us. A Savior who bled from every pore and suffered for all of our sins and shortcomings, our illnesses and weaknesses, all so that we can be perfected in Him. He did that for each of us because He loves us more than we can comprehend.
I could go on, but this post is already too lengthy.
So in closing, I invite you to remember these things:
*It's so good to be alive.
*You are a child of God and He loves you.
*You can do hard things and you can do them with the help of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you are interested, here is a link to the talk by President Hinckley. It was fun to hear his voice again. :)
The Dawning of a Brighter Day
I am loving my second chance at life.
What's Happening on
Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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